mon·​goose ˈmän-ˌgüs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) ˈmäŋ- How to pronounce mongoose (audio)
plural mongooses also mongeese ˈmän-ˌgēs How to pronounce mongoose (audio)
: any of numerous long slender carnivorous mammals (family Herpestidae) chiefly of Africa and southern Europe and Asia that are usually ferret-sized agile mammals typically with nonretractile sharp claws, short legs, long tail, and usually brownish or grayish fur sometimes with bands or stripes

Note: Mongooses feed chiefly on small animals (such as insects, earthworms, birds, snakes, and rodents) and are sometimes grouped with the viverrids in two subfamilies (Herpestinae and Galidiinae).

Illustration of mongoose

Illustration of mongoose

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web But by the 1980s and 1990s, much of its habitat had been wiped out, with the birds serving as food for predators, including cats, non-native barn owls and mongoose. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 9 Dec. 2022 Today, introduced species such as mongoose on the Hawaiian islands or the brown tree snake in Guam threaten native wildlife. Carlyn Kranking, Discover Magazine, 12 July 2022 Threats in Hawaii include predation by non-native barn owls, cats and mongoose, as well as disorientation from artificial lights. Julia Musto, Fox News, 7 Dec. 2022 Turns out that mongooses is the proper plural because mongoose is Hindi and is thus made plural in the regular way. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Nov. 2022 The pair were on a trip through the Thai jungle when Fox handed some money to someone who led them to a fight between a cobra and a mongoose. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 21 Nov. 2022 The show focuses on the lives of three African matriarchs: an elephant, a hyena and a striped mongoose. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 16 Oct. 2022 The cat-like animals, distant relatives of the mongoose, can only be found in the forests of Madagascar in the wild. Amethyst Tate, Peoplemag, 30 Sep. 2022 In 2011, a predator-proof fence was completed to protect the seabird colonies from the likes of cats and mongoose. Ku‘u Kauanoe, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mongoose.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Hindi & Marathi mãgūs, from Prakrit maṁgūsa

First Known Use

1673, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mongoose was in 1673

Dictionary Entries Near mongoose

Cite this Entry

“Mongoose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


mon·​goose ˈmän-ˌgüs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) ˈmäŋ- How to pronounce mongoose (audio)
plural mongooses
: any of various quick-moving mammals with a long slender body and long tail that are about the size of a ferret and feed chiefly on small animals and fruit

More from Merriam-Webster on mongoose

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